Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Lunch.

In the car we run through our lunch choices, Campagne or Etta's or Matt's In the Market. Last time we went to the Steelhead Diner, but this time we choose our oldest standby, Maxmilien's. When we arrive the market is crowded with visitors, jam-packed with strollers and dogs and camera-wielding tourists. I walk ahead, straight past the vegetable stalls and ice-filled trays of seafood and buckets of flowers, down a narrow corridor towards Maximilien-in-the-Market. They have a view patio now, but I ask for a table in the nearly empty dining room, all dark wood and antique mirrors, a wide expanse of windows looking over the piers along the waterfront, and the water beyond. A cruise ship is moored nearby; ferries make their way towards distant islands.

Now it seems they only serve brunch on Sundays, which is basically their lunch menu with more eggs, as I recall. I know my father will order the moules marinieres, so I have the quiche. It comes with a slightly sad little mixed salad, with chunks of romaine and slightly underripe tomatoes. My father's mussels are not up to his standards; my mother's seafood soup is fine, but not extraordinary. The whole air about the restaurant is of one whose era has passed. Now the diners seem to be mostly tourists, including a long table full of Spanish-speaking visitors fresh off a cruise ship. My quiche is very good, the crust melting like what appears to be pate brisee rather than puff pastry, but something seems lost. I feel sorry for the waiter, who has trouble explaining to other tables what a skate wing is. I wish I had ordered it instead.

We walk around the market for a while, stopping at Le Panier for a cake (my parents are going to a friend's for dinner later). I run outside to search for an earring that my mother lost on the sidewalk, and when I return triumphantly I am rewarded with a chocolate eclair. We buy a fat, juicy melon from a market stall and head home. For dinner my father has left me a glass of wine, a very good one, one of the vintages I am forbidden to touch while he is away. I think of Elizabeth David, and I make myself a plain omelet, swirling butter in a pan, sprinkling a few grains of sea salt over the eggs, some freshly ground pepper. It rolls itself neatly into a fat, cigar-shaped log, soft inside, with the thinnest of golden crusts outside. I eat my omelet and drink my glass of wine, and they are all I need for now.

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